Speaking at the workshop, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Mr. David Phiri, reiterated the importance of the aquaculture and fisheries sectors in securing employment, securing livelihoods and ensuring food security. “Aquaculture and fisheries generate employment and ensure food security and good nutrition to often vulnerable communities; contributing to the food security and nutrition of approximately 200 million Africans”, he said. Mr. Phiri also re-affirmed FAO’s support to the sustainable development of fisheries in line with the organization’s mandate to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
FAO has been actively supporting aquaculture development in the sub-region. In support of the SADC Aquaculture Strategy, the FAO Subregional Office for Southern Africa is developing a Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) that will assist the SADC Secretariat in the implementation of its Protocol on Fisheries. This project will contribute to enhanced food security, income generation capacity and sustained livelihoods along the fisheries value chains in SADC. David Phiri also added that, under the TCP, member countries of SADC and their partners will be making explicit political commitments in the form of policies, investment plans, programmes, legal frameworks and the allocation of necessary resources to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
The expert workshop was successful in building on an already existing initiative in Zimbabwe on a mechanism for an “Aquaculture Scientific Mentorship Scheme” for students and young scientists in the SADC region to develop as professionals equipped with the skill sets required in the industry. The meeting also resolved to build and enhance partnership opportunities amongst tertiary and research institutions, and private and public sector through regional and continental platforms and through existing national and regional partnerships. University Representatives who were present also expressed their willingness to influence policy-making processes by involving policy makers and other stakeholders in science fora. The holistic planning and guidance tools for aquaculture which were introduced in the workshop by resource organizations, which were present, could play an important role and be used as tools in development and implementation of National Aquaculture plans and strategies.